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What Are Natural Stone Countertops? Maintenance, Finishes, & Quality

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Granite Countertops

If you’re looking for luxury and durability in your home remodel kitchen upgrade, or custom home building, natural stone countertops are for you. Natural stone counters are the picture of elegance in any Texas home. Yet it is important to understand the ins and outs of the natural stone before choosing what to buy. To assist you in the process, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to natural stone countertops.

Breaking Down Natural Stone Countertops

Natural stone countertops are exactly as described—made from solid natural stone. These countertops come in various types and materials, known for their durability, longevity, and low maintenance.

Types of Natural Stone Surfaces

There are several different types of stone surfaces. Three common kinds we will outline here include granite, quartzite, and soapstone. 

1. Granite Countertops

Granite countertops are a favorite choice among homeowners for natural stone surfaces. This preference is due to several factors. Granite is one of the most durable natural stones, making it an excellent option for kitchens where countertops endure heavy use. Granite is an ideal choice if you love cooking, often place heavy items on your counters, or worry about chips and scratches. However, be cautious with the corners, as a sharp, heavy impact can cause cracking.

With 20 different colors available, you can choose a granite countertop that perfectly matches your style and kitchen decor. Each granite slab has a unique pattern, ensuring your countertop will be one-of-a-kind.

Granite countertops are highly popular, which can be advantageous if you plan to sell your home. Many buyers consider granite countertops a significant factor when deciding between two appealing properties.

While granite countertops are fantastic, they do have some drawbacks. The primary issue is maintaining the seal. Despite its strength, granite is porous, and unsealed pores can harbor bacteria. Unsealed granite is also prone to staining. Although sealing the countertops is a straightforward task, it needs to be done once or twice a year to keep the surface protected.

2. Quartzite Countertops

Quartzite countertops are similar in appearance to marble countertops. Quartzite countertops made from quartz formed under specific heat, pressure, and chemicals, are becoming popular in new and remodeled homes. While less known than granite or marble, quartzite is gaining attention for its UV resistance, strength, and heat resistance, making it ideal for sunny kitchens.

Quartzite’s unique, almost three-dimensional swirls make it a striking choice, especially for kitchens with steel appliances and a variety of colors. However, like granite, it requires regular sealing to prevent stains and bacteria. The main downside is the cost, as quartzite is very hard and requires expensive diamond-cutting tools and skilled professionals to shape. Despite the higher price, many homeowners find its beauty worth the investment.

3. Soapstone Countertops

Long before Europeans arrived in North America, Native Americans were quarrying soapstone for pots, utensils, and jewelry. Today, soapstone remains a popular choice for countertops.

Soapstone is less prone to cracking compared to other stone countertops. Its softness and ease of cutting make it affordable, while its heat resistance and unique appearance add to its appeal. Since it’s not commonly found in many homes, soapstone is a great countertop option for a distinctive look.

However, soapstone is not as durable as other natural stones. While it can last for decades with proper care, frequent impacts from heavy items can cause dents. Matching different soapstone countertops can be challenging, and there are limited color options available.

Natural Stone Maintenance

Maintaining natural stone countertops is a simple process. Begin by removing all items from the countertops, and relocating them to another surface such as the dining table. Use a dry sponge to clear away any debris before scrubbing.

Scrub the Surface Gently

Gently scrub the surface with a solution of dish soap and warm water using a sponge. Avoid harsh cleaners like vinegar or bleach, as they can damage the sealant. Clean in a back-to-front “S” pattern to ensure thorough coverage.

Remove Persistent Stains

Most of the time, natural stone is resistant to stains. But for stubborn stains, gently scrape them off with a razor blade held flat against the counter. Alternatively, make a paste of baking soda and water, scrub the stain gently, and rinse thoroughly.

Disinfect the Countertops

To disinfect, mix equal parts of isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Spray the countertop and let it sit for five minutes before wiping it down with a clean dish towel. For added shine, apply a small amount of cooking oil to a soft cloth and gently buff the countertop.

Lastly, periodically reseal the countertops to maintain their beauty and durability over time.

Types of Finishes

Granite countertops can be finished in several ways, each offering unique aesthetics and practical benefits to cater to different preferences and lifestyles.

1) Polished Finish

This shiny surface enhances colors and patterns, providing a high-class elegance. It’s easy to clean and stain-resistant but can be slippery when wet.

2) Honed Finish

With a low-sheen surface, honed granite offers a modest, minimalistic look. It’s great for camouflaging scratches and fingerprints, perfect for those seeking a muted aesthetic.

3) Leathered Finish

Featuring a grainy texture, leathered granite conceals fingerprints and food particles, ideal for busy kitchens with a personalized touch.

4) Flamed Finish

Achieved through extreme heat and rapid cooling, flamed granite offers a rough appearance, perfect for outdoor kitchens with slip resistance and durability.

5) Sawn Finish

This rough, coarse-textured surface gives granite a natural appearance, ideal for those seeking a rustic aesthetic.

6) Acid-Washed Finish

Using acids to alter the appearance, this finish provides an antique look and can be applied to existing countertops, offering versatility in design.

7) Caressed Finish

Combining shine with the texture of a leathered finish, caressed granite countertops offer a balance between ruggedness and elegance. It enhances durability while maintaining a unique visual appeal.

Determining Quality

To assess the quality of a granite countertop, check its thickness, which should ideally range from ¾ inch to 1¼ inches for durability. Look for consistent color patterns across the surface, which indicate high-quality fabrication. Additionally, inspect the finish to ensure it is smooth and uniform, aligning with your aesthetic preferences.

Check for Cracks or Chips

Inspecting for cracks or chips is crucial for ensuring quality and longevity. Run your fingers along the edges and surface to feel for irregularities. Pay close attention to the corners and edges for small fissures or chips that could compromise the stone’s structural integrity. Even minor hairline cracks can worsen over time, leading to potential damage and costly repairs.

Examine the Stone’s Color

Assess the color of the granite to determine its quality and aesthetic appeal. Consistent color patterns across the surface indicate uniform composition. While natural granite features variations in color and veining, which add to its beauty, excessive irregularities may suggest a lower quality or poor selection.

See if There’s a Match

Ensuring a match between different sections of granite is vital for a seamless installation. Examine the slabs or tiles for color, pattern, and texture consistency. Even minor discrepancies can detract from the overall aesthetic and create an unbalanced look in your kitchen. View the granite under different lighting conditions to see how it will appear in your home.

Visit R&D Marble for Premium Natural Stone Slabs

Natural Stone Countertops are the ultimate picture of beauty, class, and style in any modern kitchen or home. It is known for its elegance and durability making it perfect for a kitchen remodel or bathroom countertop upgrade. In choosing the right natural stone slab, it is essential to fully understand the types, finishes, maintenance, and quality.

Contact us today and explore our premium selection to transform your kitchen with beautiful natural stone countertops.

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